Car Review: With 2021 Seltos, Kia looks to make big splash in sub-compact crossover class

The smaller crossover class is seeing big gains lately, with compact crossovers growing bigger and more expensive.

The sub-compact market is heating up. Most of the early players were a bit cruder and not quite appealing for my taste. But Kia waited a few years, and the new 2021 Kia Seltos comes out swinging for the fences right out of the gate.

Kia has been really on point with its style lately, making a fresh-looking, modern and small crossover with a distinctive look. I hope you like lots of lights on your crossover. There are LED headlights, an integrated LED light bar below the headlights and even fog lights lower on the front fascia. The Starbright Yellow also helps the Seltos standout when looking for it in the parking lot.

The new Kia Seltos impresses with a more upscale interior, especially in the top-of-the-line SX Turbo model. The materials seem to be a step above the competition. The leather and softer touch materials are a welcome surprise. A huge 10.25-inch screen handles easy to navigate and highlights a booming sound system with sound connected lighting. The Kia might be more diminutive in size, but I found the rear seats good for average size adults and even some useable cargo space.

Cost: $27,890; as tested $29,495

MPG: 25 MPG City; and 30 MPG Highway. I managed 28 mpg in 320 miles of mixed driving.

Options: $130 carpeted floor mats; $345 starlight yellow/ black roof paint

Safety: Blind spot collision warning/ avoidance assist rear; rear cross traffic collision warning & avoidance assist; lane keeping assist & lane follow assist; lane departure warning; downhill brake/ hill-start assist control; smart cruise control with stop & go; highway drive assist; safe exit assist.

Things to know: The Kia Seltos is an all new crossover, bigger than the cute Soul and smaller than the Sportage compact crossover. The Seltos impresses with refinement and some more upscale surroundings.

Pros:

  • A distinctive fresh exterior style
  • Packed with technology and safety equipment
  • Packs a punch with optional turbo-charged engine

Cons:

  • Top of the line SX trim level is near $30,000
  • While highway MPG is very good, city MPG is lacking
  • Some might find the ride a touch firm on not-so-good roads

Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by DriveShop, FMI, NAVS DC or Motus One for the purpose of this review.

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